Kevin Martin, the 6'7" junior shooting guard at Western Carolina who was averaging 26.8 points at week's end—tying him for the national scoring lead with Saint Peter's sophomore guard Keydren Clark—is the latest proof that recruiting is a very inexact science. Martin was an unsigned senior in April of 2001 when Catamounts coach Steve Shurina came to Zanesville, Ohio, to watch him work out. Shurina was there only because his top recruit had reneged on his commitment. "I wondered whether [Shurina] was interested just so he could fill out that last scholarship," Martin recalls, but since he had no better offers, he went ahead and signed.
This season through Sunday the wispy 185-pounder was shooting 52.5% from the floor and 45.3% from three-point range. "He's for real, no doubt," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath after watching Martin score 33 in the Catamounts' 62-59 overtime upset of the Razorbacks on Dec. 22. "He's a lot like Reggie Miller; he's thin but he's deceptively strong. He can score from long range or in close, and he doesn't need much room to get his shot off."
Shurina is especially grateful that Martin is in Cullowhee because he almost lost the player twice during his freshman year. The first time was in the fall of '01, when Martin was intensely homesick. Later, after Martin had averaged 22.1 points, Shurina worried that he might leave for one of the many high-major colleges that made it clear they would be interested in accepting him as a transfer. Martin, however, says he never thought about going. "If anything, I felt a little angry, wondering where all these schools were during my senior year of high school," he says.